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Quincy, Josiah(kwĭn`zē), 1744–75, political leader in the American Revolution, b. Boston. An outstanding lawyer, he wrote a series of anonymous articles for the Boston Gazette in which he opposed the Stamp Act and other British colonial policies. Nevertheless, Quincy, along with John Adams, defended the British soldiers in the trial after the Boston MassacreBoston Massacre,
1770, pre-Revolutionary incident growing out of the resentment against the British troops sent to Boston to maintain order and to enforce the Townshend Acts. The troops, constantly tormented by irresponsible gangs, finally (Mar.
..... Click the link for more information. . In 1773 he went to South Carolina for his health and on his journey established connections with other colonial leaders. His Observations on the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Boston Port Bill (1774) was an important political tract. He was sent (1774) as an agent to argue the colonial cause in England and died on the way home. His son, also named Josiah Quincy, wrote a memoir of him (1825, 2d ed. 1874).
See study by R. A. McCaughey (1974).
Quincy, Josiah,1772–1864, American political leader and college president, b. Braintree, Mass.; son of Josiah Quincy (1744–75). After studying law, Quincy became interested in politics and entered (1804) the state senate as a Federalist. He subsequently proceeded (1805–13) to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became minority leader. Speaking against admission of Louisiana as a state, he declared, in an extreme states' rights view, that passage of the bill without the specific consent of the original 13 states would be cause for dissolution of the Union. An opponent of the Embargo and Nonintercourse Acts prior to the War of 1812, he nevertheless advocated preparedness for political reasons, although he later violently opposed the war. On leaving Congress he returned to Boston, where he reentered (1813) the state senate and continued to oppose the war. The Federalists dropped him for insurgency in 1820 but Quincy was elected (1821) to the Massachusetts house of representatives, where he became speaker; he resigned to become a municipal court judge. In 1823 he was elected mayor of Boston and energetically labored for reforms. In 1829 he became president of Harvard, serving until 1845. While there he gave impetus to the law school, and wrote The History of Harvard University (1840) to silence traditionalist critics. His son, Edmund Quincy, edited his Speeches Delivered in the Congress of the United States (1874) and also wrote a biography (1867; 6th ed. 1874).
See his memoirs (1825, repr. 1971).
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Quincy, Josiah(1772–1864) public official, university president; born in Braintree, Mass. He served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (Fed., Mass.; 1805–13), becoming the minority leader, but resigned following the American invasion of Canada. He returned to Boston and was elected to the state senate (1813–20). As six-term mayor of Boston (1823–29), he cleaned the streets, started work on water and sewer systems, separated paupers from criminals, prosecuted gambling and prostitution, filled pestilential tidal flats, and built the Faneuil Hall market. As president of Harvard University (1829–45), he improved food service and began calling students "Mr.," but occasional riots continued; he made notable appointments like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Benjamin Peirce; he greatly increased the faculty, endowment, and student body; and he wrote what became the standard history of Harvard, as well as other historical and cultural works. A lifelong Federalist and opponent of slavery, he supported President Abraham Lincoln and the war, especially in his last public speech at age 91.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.